Sen. Ben Downing's Press Pass: January 2015


Downing Tapped for 2 Key Chairmanships; Receives Committee Assignments

Yesterday Senator Ben Downing was named Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy and chairman of the new Senate Committee on Redistricting by Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D- Amherst) for the 2015-2016 legislative session.

Downing has chaired the Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy (TUE) Committee since 2011.  The panel is charged with reviewing all legislative proposals regarding renewable and non-renewable energy sources in the Commonwealth. 

Downing's second chairmanship, the Senate Committee on Redistricting, is a new standing committee created by Senate President Rosenberg.  The Committee will begin its efforts now, a session ahead of the next decennial Census in order to maintain a continued focus on ensuring the Commonwealth's population estimates are accurate.  This data is important because it influences how much federal funding Massachusetts receives from the federal government when formula-driven funding uses Census data.

President Rosenberg also asked Downing to continue his vice-chairmanship of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development, serve as the vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Post Audit & Oversight and maintain his active membership on the powerful Senate Committee on Ways & Means.

This session Downing will also serve as a member of the Joint Committee on Higher Education; the Senate Committee on Bills in the Third Reading; the Senate Committee on Global Warming & Climate Change; and the Joint Committee on Revenue.  

Additionally, Downing serves as the Senate chairman of the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus and is an active participant of the Caucus on Regional Schools and the Caucus on Regional Transit Authorities. 

Committee descriptions are available on the General Court's website (

Senate Rules Debate

On Wednesday, January 21, 2015 the Massachusetts Senate adopted new rules in formal session that will govern internal Senate procedures for the upcoming two year session.  This is the earliest the rules have been adopted by the Senate since they moved to a two year session in 1995.    

The new rules reflect the priorities of openness and transparency for Senate business that Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) promised in his inaugural address to the Senate on January 7th. 

Changes to the rules include:  increasing the time for the agenda for formal session to be published from 24 to 48 hours, instructs the Clerk to publish on the internet late-filed bills not yet admitted and numbered, and requires prompt posting of bill text voted on by the Senate, and requires text of further or redrafted budget amendments to be distributed a reasonable time before Senators vote. 

 Windsor Flag Presented at the State House

On January 14th, Senator Ben Downing and Rep. Paul Mark officially presented Windsor's town flag to Tammy E. Kraus, Superintendent of the Bureau of the State House. The Bureau maintains and manages the historic Massachusetts State House, on Beacon Hill, as a destination for visitors and a functioning workplace.   

Windsor's flag was first publicly unveiled during a community ceremony at Town Hall on December 7, 2014.  It was designed by Susan Edwards, a longtime Windsor resident and noted Berkshire County artist.  According to Edwards, the flag features a stripe of blue at the top to represent the town's 2,000 foot elevation with an excellent view of blue skies; white in the center for Windsor's generous snowfall every winter; and green at the bottom to represent the community's verdant fields.  

2015 Coffee & Conversation Schedule

Join  Senator Ben Downing and his district staff for his Coffee & Conversation open public forums throughout 2015.  January's event was held at Goshen Town Hall on January 12th; next month he'll be at Clarksburg Town Hall on Monday, February 9th from 2:00-4:00pm.  This year, in addition to Goshen and Clarksburg, the Coffee & Conversation program will take Senator Downing to West Stockbridge, Hancock, Heath, Lee, Williamstown, Florida, Chesterfield and Washington.


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